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Scottish talent flies the flag

Category: Dear Frankie News
Article Date: August 28, 2004 | Publication: Empire Online | Author: Editors
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All this time in Edinburgh and, Ae Fond Kiss and The Purifiers aside, Empire hasn't yet been flying the flag for the Scottish films on show. There's always a danger at any film festival, of course, that special favours and lower standards exist to allow locally produced films in alongside the international offerings in the programme. And, in certain past years, Edinburgh has sinned in this regard as much as anyone. This year, however, it could be argued that it's the Scottish work that's providing the backbone for a better than usual British line-up.

Yesterday saw the UK Premiere of Dear Frankie, scripted by Andrea Gibb, writer of last year's EIFF Audience Award winner, Afterlife. This Clydeside story of a young mum (Emily Mortimer) who hires a stranger (Gerard Butler) to pretend to be the long-gone seaman father of her nine-year-old son, Dear Frankie is a crowd-pleaser too, but one with more subtle shading in its characters' backstories. In between Tomb Raider 2 and The Phantom Of The Opera, Butler has found time to stretch his acting muscles on home turf, and his star-in-ascendant presence lent weight to tonight's red carpet screening. Tomorrow it's the turn of Blinded, in which Peter Mullan plays the embittered, older, blind husband of Jodhi May, who falls for Danish hitchhiker Anders W. Berthelsen. The fact that Berthelsen was the star of Mifune is no accident, as Blinded's high definition video images have a Dogme style restlessness and a thematic darkness that matches the severity of the film's moral universe. Like Wilbur (Wants To Kill Himself), this is another fine marriage between Scottish and Danish talent.

A quick word too for a couple of the many Scottish short films in the programme. With a full diary of features and live events to cram in on a daily basis, Empire has been a bit slack in the shorts department (ooer, missus), but has nothing but praise for Simon Hynd's couthy named and kilt-ticklingly funny Tumshie McFadgen's Bid For Ultimate Bliss. Hynd's opus is one of this year's Tartan Shorts, the annual trio of Scottish Screen financed projects that netted an Oscar in their early days for Frank Kapra's It's a Wonderful Life. Also executive produced by Scottish Screen, but with a bigger budget, is the New Found Land series of 25-minute long mini-movies. Craig Collinson and Nick Wright's sci-fi drama IM makes impressive, evocative use of its art design and musical score by folkie Martyn Bennett. As a brother and sister isolated in a remote, futuristic wind farm, Niall Greig Fulton and Jenny Foulds strike sparks off each other in a way that goes far beyond the confines of the shorts format. Check your TV schedules as both shorts might well turn up in a late night slot sometime in the near future.

Later on, all of these people and more (Butler, Blinded director Eleanor Yule, hot band Snow Patrol and Kathleen McDermott, star of Morvern Callar and another of this year's Tartan Shorts) turned up for Scottish Screen's climactic party tonight - during which the blueprint for the future of film north of the border was surely hammered out. In amongst a generally quiet film festival, there's a homeland division that is getting ready to raise a noise about their own achievements

 


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